Masterpiece and the BBC have announced the star-studded ensemble set to take part in their upcoming sequel series Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light. Based on the final installment in Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel's critically acclaimed trilogy of novels, the six-part prestige drama will see the bulk of the original series' cast reunite to bring the story of the infamous Thomas Cromwell to a close.
A man who rose from working-class beginnings as a blacksmith's son to become one of the most powerful figures in the court of King Henry VIII, Cromwell was – among many other things - one of the primary architects of the Protestant Reformation in England, and largely responsible for both the dissolution of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and the fall of Anne Boleyn several years later. Original series Wolf Hall adapted the first two novels in Mantel's trilogy --- Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies --- which ended with Anne Boleyn's execution. The second will adapt will pick up right where the first series left off and cover the events of the last four years of Cromwell's life, until his own beheading in July of 1540.
As one might expect from a series with this kind of pedigree, the new cast members joining The Mirror and the Light are an impressive bunch. Harriet Walter (Succession) is set to play Lady Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, the last surviving Plantagenet princess who watched her brother be executed so Henry could marry his first wife and her son, Cardinal Reginald Pole, named a traitor and run out of the country for refusing to support the king's divorce. Timothy Spall (The Sixth Commandment) has been cast as the ambitious Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, who was more than willing to let his own niece go to the block in the name of keeping hold of his own power.
“Casting Director Robert Sterne has done a truly extraordinary job assembling the most stunning cast with which I've ever had the privilege to work," director Peter Kosminsky (The Undeclared War) said in a statement. "Led by Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis, they’ve been drawn by the quality of Hilary Mantel's writing and Peter Straughan's adroit adaptation. Shooting in Tudor locations all over England and Wales, it is our privilege to bring Hilary's last novel to an international television audience.”
Other performers joining the cast include Alex Jennings (The Crown) as Stephen Gardiner, Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow) as Bess Oughtred, Lydia Leonard (Gentleman Jack) as Lady Jane Rochford, Charlie Rowe (Vanity Fair) as Gregory Cromwell, Harry Melling (The Queen’s Gambit) as Thomas Wriothesley, Corentin Fila (Being 17) as Christophe, Tom Mothersdale (Bodies) as Richard Riche, Karim Kadjar (Leave to Remain) as Eustache Chapuys, Lucy Russell (A Spy Among Friends, as Lady Anne Shelton, Will Tudor (Industry) as Edward Seymour, and Viola Prettejohn (The Witcher) as Mary Fitzroy.
The sprawling ensemble also features Thomas Arnold (War & Peace) as Hans Holbein, Jordan Kouamé (Malpractice) as Martin The Gaoler, Agnes O’Casey (Ridley Road) as Lady Margaret Douglas, Cecilia Appiah (Hijack) as Nan Seymour, Ellie de Lange (The Serpent) as Jenneke, Hubert Burton (Living) as Thomas Howard the Lesser, Pip Carter (1917) as Sir Geoffrey Pole, Josef Altin (Top Boy) as Thomas Avery, Sarah Priddy (Degenerates) as Lady Margery Seymour, Hannah Khalique-Brown (Barbie) as Dorothea, Amir El-Masry (Rogue Heroes) as Thomas Wyatt, German Segal (The Undeclared War) as Olisleger, Summer Richards (Wild Bill) as Catherine Howard, and Dana Herfurth (Love Addicts) as Anne of Cleves.
Here's the series' description:
May, 1536. Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, is dead. As the axe drops, Thomas Cromwell emerges from the bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.
Cromwell, a man with only his wits to rely on, has no great family to back him, and no private army. Navigating the moral complexities that accompany the exercise of power in this brutal and bloody time, Cromwell is caught between his desire to do what is right and his instinct to survive. But in the wake of Henry VIII having executed his queen, no one is safe.
Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. All of England lies at his feet, ripe for innovation and religious reform. But as fortune’s wheel turns, Cromwell’s enemies are gathering in the shadows.
The inevitable question remains: how long can anyone survive under Henry’s cruel and capricious gaze?
The majority of the cast of the original Wolf Hall will return for The Mirror and the Light, including Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) and Damian Lewis (A Spy Among Friends) are both reprising their roles as Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII, respectively. Kate Phillips (Miss Scarlet & The Duke) will once again play Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, with Jonathan Pryce (The Crown) as Cardinal Wolsey, and Lilit Lesser (Domina) as Princess Mary, Henry's daughter with his first wife Catherine of Aragon.
Other returning cast members include Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Artful Dodger) as Rafe Sadler, Joss Porter (Humans) as Richard Cromwell, James Larkin (Black Mirror) as Master Treasurer Fitzwilliam, Richard Dillane (Argo) as the Duke of Suffolk, Will Keen (His Dark Materials) as Archbishop Cranmer, and Hannah Steele (The Night Manager) as Mary Shelton.
Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light reunites the creative team from the BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning first series. It will be directed by Kosminsky, adapted for television by Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and produced by Playground (All Creatures Great and Small) and Company Pictures (Van Der Valk).
Filming on the six-part series is now under way across England and Wales. Wolf Hall's first season is available to watch on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in the U.S. and on BBC iPlayer in the U.K.